San Jose’s world-famous competitive-eating legend has a new trophy to add to his collection of wins while his biggest rival has a new title of a much different flavor to add to his record: Defendant.
Joey "Jaws" Chestnut shoveled down 54 hot dogs in 10 minutes at Sunday's annual Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest to hold onto his title for the fourth year in a row.
His biggest rival, Japanese eating champion Takeru Kobayashi, was watching from the audience but he couldn’t help but get into the action. A contract dispute had kept Kobayashi out, but he showed up anyway and made his presence known the wrong way.
At the end of the contest, Kobayashi jumped onto the stage. Cops jumped up behind him and arrested him, but Kobayashi didn't go down without a fight -- he grabbed onto the police barricades as cops handcuffed him and dragged him from the crowd.
“I was there as a spectator, just to cheer on my buddies,” Kobayashi said through an interpreter outside court Monday. Fans chanted for him, and "in the heat of it, I jumped on the stage, hoping they would let me eat.”
Kobayashi was freed Monday after a night in jail, looking a little weary and saying he was hungry. Kobayashi, wearing in a black T-shirt bearing the message "Free Kobi" in green letters, was freed by a Brooklyn judge after he pleaded not guilty. He was charged with obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest, trespassing and disorderly conduct.
The slim and boyish 32-year-old said he consumed only a sandwich and some milk in jail. His attorney, Mario D. Romano, said his client was waved up onstage after spectators began chanting "Let him eat!”
Chestnut appeared on the "Today" show Monday and said the whole incident was "all kinda weird," and that Kobayashi "needs to get his stuff together."
Kobayashi, who's currently living in New York, had refused to sign a contract with Major League Eating, the fast food equivalent of the NFL. On his Japanese-language blog, he said he wanted to be free to enter contests sanctioned by other groups.
But a few days ago, he told Japan's Kyodo News: "I really want to compete in the (Coney Island) event.”
After witnessing the drama involving Kobayashi, Chestnut said, "I feel bad for him.”
Chestnut claimed the mustard-yellow champion's belt and a $20,000 purse but was disappointed with his own performance. The 26-year-old was aiming for a record 70 dogs in 10 minutes. Last year, he ate 68 dogs, four more than Kobayashi.